Gun battle in the Legislature; abuse accusations at Shattuck-St. Mary's
Today on the MPR News Update: The assault weapons ban is out, backgrounds checks are out, so what's left in legislation aimed at curbing gun violence? Also, how might the governor's sales tax proposals affect you? The state economy appears to be better than we thought.. Somali natives are being sent back to their homeland. We go in-depth on allegations of sexual abuse at Shattuck St.Mary's. And, hockey will rule St. Paul the next few days, but is it safer?
DUELLING GUN BILLS: The chief sponsor of a bill that would require universal background checks for gun buyers is not backing down despite signs the measure doesn't have enough support to pass the House. A bipartisan group of lawmakers will announce today a separate gun bill that does not include universal background checks. The dispute is creating a rift between two powerful DFL legislators.
BACKGROUND CHECKS: The gun control debate continues this week at the Capitol with a DFL legislator planning to introduce a bill that will not include universal background checks for gun sales. Supporters say that the checks are needed because 40 percent of all gun sales in the country take place without a background check. The statistic comes from the National Survey on the Ownership of Firearms conducted in 1994. Some gun rights advocates, however, dispute this widely quoted number.
FAIR SHARE OF TAX SKEPTICISM: Mark Dayton's gubernatorial campaign called for higher taxes on wealthy Minnesotans. He said then, and continues to say as governor, that they need to pay their fair share. Dayton speaks about his ambitious sales tax plan in similar terms: It is intended to force businesses to pay their fair share. While the governor insists average Minnesotans would not get stuck with the bill, some are skeptical.
JOBS RECOVERY: Job recovery in Minnesota is further along than thought. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development issued revisions to the state's job numbers going back almost two years. The new numbers suggest that in another month or two, Minnesota's payroll levels will return to their pre-recessionary peak.
DOW ROECOVERY: The Dow closed at a record high Tuesday, beating the previous high it set in October 2007, before the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The index is up 8.8 percent this year, capping a remarkable comeback. The Dow has more than doubled since hitting a 12-year low in March 2009. The Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq also posted gains.
WHAT THE SHATTUCK-ST. MARY'S TEACHERS ARE SAYING: A former Shattuck-St. Mary's teacher appears in court this week in Faribault to face charges of sexual abuse. Lynn Seibel is accused of abusing six male students at the Faribault boarding school from 1999 to 2003. The school claims it knew nothing of the alleged crimes. An MPR News investigation shows several teachers did know about some of Seibel's behavior but failed to tell police. The insular nature of the private boarding school is one reason the former teacher gained access to children, and school officials took few steps to prevent the alleged abuse.
REMEMBERING: Shattuck-St. Mary's is a private Episcopal school with about 400 middle and high school students. Given the school's national reputation as a hockey powerhouse, as well as a general reluctance among victims of sexual abuse to talk about their past, the six victims listed in court documents might be the only ones who come forward. And for those six, the process for some has involved finally realizing that they were victims of sexual abuse, investigators said.
SOMALI DEPORTATIONS: The U.S. officially recognized Somalia's government for the first time in two decades earlier this year, and it is now deporting Somalis again, starting with sex offenders and other felons. Deportations had been suspended for many years while the country had no functioning government.
KIDS AND HOCKEY INJURIES: It's been more than a year since Benilde-St. Margaret's School hockey player Jack Jablonski was paralyzed after he was checked into the boards during a game. Since then, tougher penalties for dangerous play have been instituted, and hockey officials are evaluating whether the new rules have been effective.
DEADLY SUPERBUGS: Twice as many Minnesotans were infected by superbugs called Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae last year than the previous year. CREs are on the rise in Minnesota and across much of the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that CRE infections in the U.S. have quadrupled in the past decade.
MINNESOTA UNITED: Minnesota's only professional soccer team, the minor league Minnesota Stars, are getting a new name: Minnesota United Football Club. Former UnitedHealth Group CEO William McGuire bought the team in November. The Stars won the league championship in 2011 and lost in the final in 2012. Nick Rogers, McGuire's son-in-law, is taking over as president of the club and said he's got high hopes for the franchise.
AN APPLE A DAY: State officials are launching a pilot program to encourage food stamp recipients to eat more fruits and vegetables. Starting in June, food stamp customers at select grocery stores in Minnesota will get a $5 coupon for fruits and vegetables. They'll be able to use that coupon during their next visit to the grocery store. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson expects the incentive will encourage people to try produce they haven't tried before.